Word S5 E1: National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) — Part 1

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Monday, February 1, 2021 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, February 1, 2021 - 9:40pm

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Mitsue Nagase
Natalie Goldberg is the author of "Three Simple Lines," a book about haiku and the best-selling book "Writing Down The Bones."

Welcome to the Season 5 opener of “Word” and the launch of KJZZ’s third-annual Haiku Writing Contest.

This year’s theme: What's new for you during the pandemic

You can submit up to one original haiku per week and we will select a random winner on Feb. 26, 2021.

We also begin our third year of this podcast by celebrating NaHaiWriMo — National Haiku Writing Month.  

On this episode, we’ll talk to the sensei who started it all.

Plus, we’ll catch up with the author of a new book about haiku who is also the spotlight of a virtual Q&A at one of the Valley’s most beloved independent bookstores.

But first, Valley writer D. Ellsworth Hoag has many books of poetry to his name, including two volumes of haiku.  

He says when writing haiku, one has to be cognizant of how words sound. Some words sound harsh. Some words sound mellow and some words sound almost melodramatic.

Depending on which haiku poet you ask, you’re bound to hear differing philosophies on technique such as whether the poem should instill contemplation in a reader or must feature an element of nature.     

Dean Davis (2018)
Michael Dylan Welch is a technical writer and poet living in Washington. He started National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) in 2010.

Santa Fe author Natalie Goldberg has a new book called “Three Simple Lines.” It’s about the art and history of haiku writing and she’ll be discussing it via a virtual event with Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix on February 9th.

For 35 years, her best-selling book “Writing Down the Bones” has been the go-to guide for budding writers.   

Goldberg says humor can be a central characteristic of haiku, even though the form often is esteemed as extremely serious.  

Finally, longtime listeners of “Word” will recall Michael Dylan Welch was our very first guest on Feb. 19, 2019.

He says, from a traditional Japanese perspective, haiku implements some pointed techniques such as the use of a season word, called a kigo (季語) and something called a kireji (切れ字), or cutting word-sort of like spoken punctuation which divides the poem into two parts.

Welch created NaHaiWriMo in 2011 on his Facebook page where haiku poets are free to post their poems based on his prompts. This year, he’s channeling music.

He tells us what's changed for him during the pandemic.

Don’t forget to enter KJZZ’s third-annual Haiku Writing Contest.

In the meantime, thanks for supporting public radio and the literary arts in Arizona and the region.

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